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“1850: False Optimism about a Divided Nation”

“1850: False Optimism about a Divided Nation”
The Compromise of 1850 came along to bring an agreement on the status in which new territories would join the Union. It is to be remembered that the 1820 Missouri Compromise had clearly led to a balance between slave-free states and slave territories and the deal closed. The Northerners were opposed to having new slave states while Southerners wanted slavery to continue. Some argued that the settlers in the controversial states be allowed to make their own choice. There was also a dispute over Texas with claims that it reached up to Santa Fe. In Washington, DC, slavery and slavery trade was prominent. In the midst of these disputes, Senator Henry Clay came up with a plan to create a balance and an agreement to this dispute on January 29, 1850. The Compromise was debated by Senators’ John C. Calhoun, Clay himself, Daniel Webster and Stephen Douglas. According to the compromise, Texas was to give up the disputed land and get a compensation of $ 10 million for settling the debt with Mexico. California was to become a state with prohibited slavery while Washington, DC was to stop slave trade although slavery would continue. Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada were to be organized and the issue of slavery be left unmentioned. Thus, the inhabitants of these territories were to decide by themselves later upon becoming states.
The Compromise of 1850 could not have lasted with permanent internal divisions that were unified constitutionally under the United States. It is foreseeable that slaves would flee to the slave-free states. No wonder the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted as citizens were to participate in getting back fugitive slaves. It is also evident that the compromise would never succeed since the Northerners would help slaves to escape with about 20,000 blacks escaping to Canada and the Underground Railroad expanded. The Compromise therefore reintroduced and reignited slave trade and slavery debate in America. With a divided nation, the lives of both free and slave Americans would be affected immensely. Social interaction would be restricted as with each side of the debate seeing the other side as an enemy. In addition to social lives, the economic welfare of the people would be hampered since trade among the states would be restricted. The American culture would not become rich as people would create “islands” of culture in the states instead of the now “melting pot” as divisions were based on cultural practices of slave trade. In addition, a divided nation meant possible war which would deny Americans peace and possibly claim many lives.

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